European Manifesto for minority media

March 2004 -

Thousands of media organisations for and by immigrants are active in the European Union. However, their existence is frequently threatened. This is why interest groups from fifteen member states initiated the European Manifesto for minority media. These organisations have joined forces in the network Online/More Colour in the Media. The Manifesto will be presented on 29 April to European Parliament Chair Pat Cox, along with signatures that were collected digitally.

The minority media offer information and amusement via radio, television, press and internet, collectively reaching a potential audience of millions of EU citizens that have immigrated from all over the world. The lack of political recognition, financial means and access to the traditional broadcasting channels for radio and television are problems that immigrant media experience in most EU countries. Esther Lubenau, coordinator of the European secretariat for Online/More Colour in the Media, explains: 'The situation is growing worse in most countries, including those countries that led the way in the area of media diversity. Many public broadcasting companies have lost their minority programming, and minority media are not receiving anymore funding.' These organisations are often not qualified for subsidies that mainstream media can use because they fail to satisfy the 'mainstream' criteria. The Manifesto advocates making existing funds better accessible for these organisations.

The authors of the Manifesto also urge EU policy makers to guarantee freedom of speech and the right to communication and information as basic rights for all, including the right of minorities to receive media in their own language. Ethnic media can make an important contribution to the emancipation of immigrants as European citizens, as well as to knowledge and understanding between population groups, according to the authors. Lubenau: 'Immigrant editorial staff often have access to enormous alternative networks of spokespeople and experts, and are on top of the news. Why aren't the traditional media utilising this more? With the Manifesto we want to emphasise the bridge function that minority media can fulfil. The reality of today's society reflects a special need for this now.'

Those who are interested can declare their support for the European Manifesto by surfing to www.multi Digital signatures submitted prior to 15 April will be included in the presentation of the Manifesto to Parliament chairperson Cox. Signatures are also welcome after that date, until the conclusion of the European elections in June.

Miramedia is the partner in the Netherlands for the Online/More Colour in the Media network. Platform Allochtone Lokale Media (PALM) is one of the co-authors of the European Manifesto.